STOP AND FRISK
15th, January 2013
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is popular for the stop-and-frisk practice, as its officers perform this on people across the New York City streets. The issue of stop-and-risk became a public concern in the year 1999 when police officers in the NYPD’s Street Crimes Unit shot dead one Amadou Diallo. This raised the question of racial profiling and raised controversy on the stop-and-frisk practice by police officers. After public protests, the New York State Attorney General’s Office was compelled to undertake a research on NYPD’s stop-and-frisk activity. Consequently, the New York City Council enacted a legislation requiring the Police Department to provide quarterly reports about stop-and-frisk activity (“New York Civil Liberties Union,” 2012). Sadly, this human rights issue has not been addressed to date, as people are still being stopped and frisked on the streets today. Basing on a report by the Center for Constitutional Rights released in July 2012, this essay will prove that, apart from being a controversial issue, and a constitutional question, the practice of stop-and-frisk is detrimental to relations between the police and different communities, thereby painting a negative image of the city’s public policy.
Despite the fact that the stop-and-frisk practice by police officers in New York was investigated and even legislation enacted requiring the issuance of quarterly reports on the issue, this seems to have not borne fruits at all. Evidence from recent reports point out that the number of times police officers stop and frisk people in the New York streets has been skyrocketing over the years. Data from the NYDP shows that stop-and-frisk was conducted about 685, 000 times in the year 2011, and was expected to reach over 700, 000 in the year 2012. This police practice is conducted in all the wrong ways, using profiling, and carrying it out in a rather aggressive manner toward the frisked individuals. This has detrimental effects including psychological, physical, social, and economic effects, among others, on the affected individuals, groups, and different communities in New York City (“Center for Constitutional Rights,” 2012).
The Center for Constitutional Rights conducted interviews among the New Yorkers who have ever been stopped, and frisked by police officers. They found out that the number of those affected daily was vast, ranging in thousands. The aspect of profiling by the police in this process was also evident, as it was noted that most of the affected people were Latinos and Blacks. However, the marginalized groups such as religious minorities, LGBTQ/GNC people, the homeless, and the low-income earners in the other communities were equally affected. Most people living in New York confessed that they disliked the presence of the police among them as this makes them feel they are living under bondage, without freedom (“Center for Constitutional Rights,” 2012).
There are numerous impacts of this process on individuals, on communities, and on neighborhoods. Respondents agreed that police officers touched them inappropriately, qualifying as sexual harassment. Some victims were asked to remove their clothes in public, while others had their genitals touched by the officers. Police also treat people brutally during this process. Some reported having been slapped or physically injured by the police. All these lead to humiliation and trauma among the affected people, as well as making everyone in the city live in fear of the police. Today, people have become extra-cautious, while some have adopted strategies of avoiding contact with the police on streets. The use of profiling in this police practice makes most victims feel discriminated against. In addition, the unnecessary arrests of innocent low income earners has devastating economic effects on their families, as they may lack basic needs when their breadwinners are detained (“Center for Constitutional Rights” 2012).
In conclusion, from the experiences of the interviewees in this report, it is clear that the stop-and-frisk practice continues to have adverse effects on individuals, communities, and neighborhoods in New York. This results in both psychological and physical harm of many people. This is in addition to social and economic effects this has on New Yorkers. Since the police base on discriminatory aspects such as gender, race, sexuality, income, immigration status among others, to conduct this practice, the marginalized groups are most affected, especially emotionally and psychologically. Basing on these facts, it is paramount that the NYPD stops this practice, or if necessary, perform it within the right context. Instead of basing this on profiling, the police should conduct this only when they genuinely suspect someone of criminal activity. Unless the various flaws in the stop-and-frisk practice are addressed explicitly, the already ailing relationship between the police and New Yorkers will only get even worse, and this will probably have deadly repercussions on the city.
“Center for Constitutional Rights.” (2012). Stop and Frisk: The Human Impact. Retrieved from http://stopandfrisk.org/the-human-impact-report.pdf
“New York Civil Liberties Union” [NYCLU]. (2012). Report: NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Activity in
2011 (2012). Retrieved from http://www.nyclu.org/publications/report-nypd-stop-and-frisk-activity-2011-2012
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